Who punched Rieko Ioane and why
More to stoush between Ioane and Gibson than ‘high jinks’ which left All Black wing with nasty cut above eye
All Black star Rieko Ioane’s altercation with a teammate was seemingly more serious than meets the eye.
The Weekend Herald understands Ioane suffered his nasty cut to the eye — initially dismissed by the Blues as the result of “high jinks” — after a scuffle with flanker Blake Gibson.
The quarrel was allegedly sparked by a flippant comment the 13-test winger hurled at his teammate shortly after the Blues’ embarrassing loss to the Melbourne Rebels at Eden Park.
Ioane emerged at All Blacks training on Tuesday sporting a black eye, less than 48 hours after the Blues dismissed the incident at a private get-together as “antics”.
The 21-year-old, who was rested for the clash with the Rebels, had to have the cut treated with medical glue at an A&E clinic in Auckland after the post-match altercation.
In a statement on Sunday, the Blues confirmed the incident but insisted there was no malice. The club refused to name the other player, while chief executive Michael Redman said he would investigate.
“We were just poking fun at each other. It’s not serious and I’ve apologised to my teammates and the club,” Ioane said in the statement.
Multiple sources told the Weekend Herald Ioane was punched above his left eye by Gibson after he made an “upsetting” comment aimed at the 23-year-old loose forward.
It is understood the clash followed mounting tension between certain players amid the Blues’ horror season.
The Blues have had a nightmare Super Rugby campaign, winning only three of their 13 matches. They’ve also suffered seven home losses, with the 20-10 defeat to the Rebels arguably their worst performance.
Ioane is set to start on the left wing for the All Blacks at Eden Park tonight in the first of three tests against France.
The Blues declined to add to their initial statement when contacted by the Weekend Herald yesterday, saying “the issue had been dealt with internally and all parties had moved on”.
It added to a tough weekend for the All Blacks, with young fullback Jordie Barrett making headlines after a night out in Dunedin. Police were called after the 21-year-old Barrett and friend Sam Casey ended up in a stranger’s house in the early hours of Saturday morning.
The pair had decided to stop in at Casey’s friends’ house in the Castle St area but had unwittingly gone into the wrong house — entering the property across the road from where they had meant to go.
“Basically it was a human error, walked into the wrong flat and we left,” Barrett said. “I’m assuming they’d called the cops because they might have heard someone in their house, because we walked into the house thinking it was Sam’s mates. A few minutes later, the penny dropped, he realised it wasn’t his mates’ house, we left, and then the cops came. They came and questioned us, asked a few questions and then we were released and then went back to the hotel.”
Rieko Ioane downplayed the incident, saying “we were just poking fun . . . nothing serious”.
Blake Gibson took exception to a comment made by Rieko Ioane after the Rebels loss.